America,  Book Reviews,  FICTION,  History,  Mystery

The Gods of Gotham by Lindsay Faye *** (of 4)

gods-of-gotham-cover2The year is 1845.  The city of New York has grown a little too quickly from 50,000 to half a million.  The potato blight has recently struck Ireland and now starving Irish immigrants are arriving by the boatload creating friction with resident Protestants whose fear of a Papist takeover is breeding abhorrent levels of prejudice.  New York is a city of pestilence, prostitution, fires, pigs, mud, crime, and hunger and in 1845 its first police force is created to establish some order.  Timothy Wilde is the city’s first crime detective and he spends his days tracking across lower Manhattan searching for a serial killer of young children.  All the evidence suggests that Protestants are ritually murdering Catholic children in hopes of frightening the Irish back across the Atlantic.  The strength of this mystery is what we learn about mid-Nineteenth Century New York City.  The imagery is fantastic.  Unfortunately, Timothy Wilde is just an ordinary detective, not quite endearing enough to make me want to get involved in his second case.